The Sunday Within The Octave Of Christmas The Gospel Luc. 2.v.33. Wednesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Luke 2:33-40At that time, And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: "Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.
Considerations for Wednesday
Another example may be thus. Suppose a man for some capital crime be committed to prison, and there expecteth nothing but certain death when the day of his arraignment shall come. Suppose also this man to be a very mean, and base fellow: and that the Kings only son hearing of it, cometh into the prison to visit him, and being there, putteth himself into the Prisoners apparel, dismisseth the prisoner, and standeth there at the stake for him: And when time of trail, and judgment cometh, vocuhsaseth to die for him a shameful death, as a malefactor worthy thereof. Who would not admire beyond all measure such a fact as this?
This did Christ for us sinners. For all mankind, the wretched children of Adam, were guilty of Adams crime, and consequently incurred the same sentence of everlasting damnation of body, and soul: and were put into this world, as into a prison, until the day of our particular judgment, which is immediately after our death. Being then thus in person, the only son of God came down from heaven into the prison of this world, and took upon him our frail flesh, and was found in the habit of man, and (in the opinion of the Jews,) of a malefactor, a seducer of men; and therefore deserving of death, ad they though, for his offense, whereas indeed he was altogether impeccable, that is, he could not sin, being as well God, as man in one person or substance. But he died in deed for the sins of the people, as Caiaphas the high priest of the Jews prophesied it was necessary to be done, that the people should not perish.
Now if we add to this, the circumstances related in the former example, who it is that died, for whom, what manner of death, with what love, and willingness: Who can but admire it, or rather be astonished at the standers thereof, and be out of themselves for amazement, as the Queen of Saba was at the majesty, order, and sumptuousness, wherewith all King Salomon was attended.
The Jews did so admire at their delivery out of the captivity of Babylon, that the prophet David in their name said of it, we were as it were dreaming (for so St Jerome translated it out of Hebrew, where the ordinary translation is, we were as joyful or comforted souls,) meaning, it was so great a benefit, and so strange unto them, that they could hardly persuade themselves at first, it was true, and real, but only a vision or dream of their happy delivery from thralldom.
Now if they admired so much their strong, and strange delivery out of Babylon: how may we admire our so strong and so strange delivery from eternal death, by the death of Christ our Lord, and our God?
Then do we most eloquently set forth the prayers of God (saith Saint Gregory) and his powerful, & stupendous works; when thorough amazement, we find nothing to say or express our thought. Imagine the Kings son, in the example proposed, after his death should remain long hanging upon the gibbet; and the prisoner whom he saved by his own death, should often pass that was, and view the dead body of him that so lovingly died for him, with what a loving and melting heart would he behold him? how thankful would he be? how would he admire at such unspeakable love?
Christ our Lord that died for us, ordained the sacrifice of the mass for a continual remembrance of this his death, and passion: in which whensoever the priest lifteth up the holy host, or Sacrament, he doth it to this end, that the people may behold Christ there really present, and as it were nailed to the cross for our sakes.
And therefore did he command his Apostles, and in them all Catholic Priests, as often as they sacrificed, to do it in remembrance of him; that is, (as Saint Paul expounded it) of his death, and passion.
With what reverence therefore, and devotion ought we behold him there? how much thankful ought we to be for such a benefit? how deeply should we admire so infinite love? How many journeys should we make to visit his sacred body? How should we desire to dwell always at the altar, where Christ his body is laid, and bedew it with tears of love, as being the lively representation of the death, and passion of our Savior?